I set two kinds goals for #acwrimo: daily time goals and individual project goals. I didn’t manage to reach either set of goals entirely, but I still feel good about where I ended up. Here’s why:
Daily time goal
I wanted to work on my research projects for at least 30 min. each day, no matter what. I thought that doing this would help me think about my work as a daily habit rather than as a task and enable me to develop a closer relationship to my research (and thus get more consistent and follow through on my lines of research).
What happened: Out of the 3o days of November, I managed to fulfill the daily time goal on 24 days. And I managed that in a month filled with teaching (last two weeks of our term: lots of student time, grading final essays and projects, and calculating final grades), various loads of administrivia, and life.
What I learned: Even on days when I didn’t manage to spend the time on research, I felt like I had to consciously make that choice and turn away to do something else. This made me so much more thoughtful in general terms about structuring my daily to-do list; I prioritized my research more and more.
It also got easier to return to my writing. The “ramp up” to remember what I had been working through got shorter and shorter. Some days I even woke up excited about digging into my work.
My project goals were as follows: finish editing Ruiz de Burton article; develop abstract for ACLA; finish editing telenovela in prime time article; start work on Mena piece.
What happened: I finished TWO abstracts, one for the ACLA and the other for a (new) Latino Literature conference in NYC this spring. The second abstract helped me start work on the Mena piece. I edited the telenovela in prime time piece, showed it to my writing group, and got great feedback from them, including the suggestion that it would work better as a book. So I began to work on a book proposal and think about the project that way. I am still in the midst of editing the Ruiz de Burton article. I’m not sure if it’s a mess or if it’s clearing up. I think the latter… but I’m getting more feedback from a colleague soon. Finally, I began work with several colleagues on a hashtag project (data is twitterpated). This is mostly at the idea stage, but I’ve been jotting down notes here and there.
What I learned: #Acwrimo kept me on top of my old projects while spurring me to work on new ones too. So the second abstract…well, I wasn’t sure about whether or not to submit something or not…and then I thought to myself, hey! this is just another chance to try out my ideas! And the hashtag project…a few months ago I might just have left it at the “in my brain” stage, one of those many things in the world and words that makes me go “huh.”¹ This time I sent an email off to a friend and voilá, now I’m figuring out how to study it.
And while I haven’t finished the RdB article, I’m close to getting it publication-ready. #acwrimo has helped me feel productive and effective. Like, I can put my nose to this grindstone and figure it out, yes I can!
#Acwrimo worked for me. In fact, it worked so well that I’ll be keeping up my daily writing practice in December. Before classes begin in January I want to finish the RdB article and sketch out more of the book proposal and figure out which piece of it to develop as a sample chapter.
Why did it work? Joining a community of people who all had writing goals acted very powerfully for me. Checking in on twitter made me more accountable, especially in the first two weeks. Twitter being a relatively new medium for me, I wasn’t the most active or savvy twitter user. But I still managed to find people who were kind, generous, and great cheerleaders. And I tried to do my part to cheer them on in return.
1 So many things make me go “huh”. Another obsession of mine that I am unlikely to ever study or write up is the insistent, frantic retelling of fairy tales that is happening on screen these days. What’s up with the combination of Grimm, Once Upon a Time, and all those Snow White movies?